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'Disgraced' Pak scientist being backed by Army instead of being punished

Islamabad, Mon, 12 Nov 2012 ANI

Islamabad, Nov. 12 (ANI): Observers across the world believe that disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who is accused of providing nuclear research to Libya, Iran, and North Korea, is backed by the Pakistani Army instead of being treated like a criminal.

"He should have been treated as a criminal, but he enjoyed luxury even after his house arrest. He regularly writes opinion pieces in the local newspapers and enjoys life as a popular public figure," the Christain Science Monitor quoted Christine Fair, a Pakistan expert at Georgetown University in Washington, as saying.

While some see Khan's entry into politics as military backed, others see it as more of a compromise that he has made with the Pakistani military to keep his mouth shut.

"Every now and then AQ Khan pulls a rabbit out of the hat, as when he named some Army generals he had bribed with North Korean money," said Pervez Hoodbhoy, a Pakistani nuclear physicist and defense analyst. The military would rather see him busy with politics, he added.

Observers believe that Khan's entry into politics will add to an already long list of serious doubts about Pakistan's credibility and its status as a responsible nuclear state.

Fair is skeptical that Khan will create any impact in the Pakistani elections next year.

"With Imran Khan, there were similar expectations, and we saw his popularity surge - especially whenever there was a military-civilian row in Pakistan. But even that has died down. I don't see AQ Khan becoming that prominent," Fair said, indicating that there may be military behind these new players in the Pakistani politics.

In Pakistan, Khan is considered a national hero for helping transform the country into a nuclear power. However, in 2004 he confessed on Pakistani television to selling nuclear secrets to Libya, Iran, and North Korea. But he later claimed that he was forced to confess by the then president of Pakistan, Gen Pervez Musharraf. He was put under house arrest for five years following his confession, and while restrictions were relaxed on him after public pressure, he still lives under tight military security.

To the U.S. and nuclear investigators around the world, he is a rogue scientist who has failed to reveal the extent of the dangers posed by the underground network he created. (ANI)

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